Even before the arrival of the Normans, Pembroke’s position on the Haven Waterway made it an attractive and accessible target for a succession of invading fleets, most notably that of the Vikings.
Under Norman rule, Pembroke was established as an important trading port, from which coal, wool, wheat, lime, cloth, leather and other goods were shipped to ports all around the British coast as well as to Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal.
This maritime trade flourished in the period between the 17th and 19th centuries, but then came the advent of the railways whose competition proved too strong.
Dwindling prosperity was quickly compounded by two other factors: the development of Pembroke Dock as a naval dockyard, and the gradual silting up of the shallow river access to Pembroke.
Today, the historic dockyard still plays an important role in the life of the town, being the departure point for the ferry to Rosslare. Many of the fine limestone buildings dating from the Victorian hey-day of the dockyard can still be seen, including the Commodore Hotel which was once the home of the dockyard superintendent.
The vast hangars were built during the Second World War to house squadrons of RAF Sunderland flying boats.
So important was the Royal Dockyard during the last century that a network of gun batteries and fortifications was built to defend it. One of these stands on the waterfront in Pembroke Dock – the Martello Gun tower. Within this beautifully restored tower is a display tracing the military history of the Milford Haven waterway.